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The King: A Story for Children (Louis Toliver Jr)

“Alright, boys! Hold it down!” King Pete beat the jungle gym with a large stick like a gavel. “The Jungle Boys is meeting now!” he climbed the top of the jungle gym and sat on top of them as if he were above a kingdom. In the distance, on the other side of the playground, there was a playhouse, where all the ones The Jungle Boys didn’t speak of spent their time, The Wasteland. The Jungle Boys was an all-exclusive all-boys club that met during morning and afternoon recess. Pete was the eldest second grader of Mrs. Marion’s class at near 9 years old and therefore he felt that gave him leadership of the club. Roll call went as follows:…Andy, Jimmy, Johnny, Jamil, Phil, Justin, Matt, Tommy,  Simms, and Judd…
“Here!” they chanted in unison.
“Alright, first business, The Jungle here is getting too small for the membership. We need to vote on a new location to have our meetings,” King Pete poked out his chest and then looked across the playground. “It’s a big land out there.”
“The Swings!” Andy screamed to get only the first sentence at every meeting. Everyone gave him a funny look, because there wee no such things as swings in their world. “I mean…The Vineyard!”
“I like that idea,” Jimmy added.
“Me too!” Johnny went along with Jimmy.
“The Vineyard!,” Simms cheered, some of the others joining in.
“What’s a vineyard?” Judd asked.
“It’s where there are a bunch of vines and moats,” Justin whispered to Judd.
“But The Courts are bigger,” Matt said. 
“Yes, yes, Matt is right. The Courts (the basketball courts) are bigger. We could all have a big space to ourselves, start territories!” the boys cheered at King Pete’s words.
“But what about The Jungle? What will happen to it? What if the ones we don’t speak of take over The Jungle?” Tommy wasn’t sold on change easily.
Tommy always asked difficult questions and King Pete wondered if Tommy secretly wanted to be leader, “Hmmm, well The Jungle will now be a territory of ours. This is the beginning and we must protect it!”
“I like that idea,” Jimmy added.
“Me too!” Johnny went along with Jimmy.
“Protect The Jungle!” Simms cheered, some of the others joining in.
“But how can we live in The Jungle and The Courts at the same time?” Tommy asked?

Meanwhile… at The Wasteland.

This is where Jessie spent most of her time wishing she was playing with the boys and she wished she was a part of their secret club that wasn’t really a secret. Jessie wanted to be a Jungle Boy but, as always, she was stuck with Bart, who wasn’t really interested in the club anyway. They joined the girls at recess playing House or Red Rover, because they were not allowed to join The Jungle Boys.
“That’s it! I want to go over there. Come with me Bart,” Jessie jumped off the ground away form the imaginary diner table where she always played the husband, a unanimous decision by all the girls and Bart. She grabbed Bart by the arm and dragged him away from playing the brother who was interested in table decorations, family prayers, and helping his sisters with their dance routines.
“I don’t want to go!” Bart dug his heels in the ground as Jessie pulled him. “We were about to have dinner! A lasagna, which I helped mom make!”
“Come on! I don’t like secrets kept from me. They will let us join,” Jessie marched.
“I said I don’t want to join! They play on those dirty bars!” Bart would not stop resisting.

…Back at The Jungle.

            “Are we still going to be The Jungle Boys?” Judd asked. “Are we going to be The Court Boys?”
            “That’s a stupid question,” Jimmy added
            “Yeah, yeah,” Johnny went along with Jimmy.
            “Forever The Jungle Boys!” Simms cheered then looked at Judd, “You’re stupid, Judd!”
            “That’s actually a good question,” Tommy suggested. “We can’t be the Jungle Boys living at The Courts.”
            “Fine. We will be called The Jungle-Court Boys,” King Pete slammed down the stick hard because he wanted to move along. “That ends that. We move tomorrow and Jamil and Phil will guard The Jungle because they are the youngest.”
            Jessie marched up the to jungle gym with Bart standing away uninterested, “I want to speak to your leader!”
            The ones we don’t speak of!” the chorus of boys panicked.
            “What do you want boyish girl and girly boy?” King Pete yelled from the top of The Jungle. “You don’t fit in here.”
            “I want to be a Jungle Boy,” Jessie demanded.
            Judd began laughing hysterically, “But you’re not a boy! That’s funny!” He kept laughing for a long time, one of those long awkward laughs when no one else is laughing. “She’s not a boy, you see!” He laughed more.
            “You and him cannot join. Our rules,” King Pete grinned.
            “I don’t care about your stupid secret club. I’m going to play Red Rover,” Bart left.
            “Well, then I challenge you!” Jessie swelled out her chest to Pete.
            All the boys where silent. Pete couldn’t believe this girl challenged him. He had to do something. “Ha, how could you possibly challenge me?” King Pete climbed down from. The Jungle and stood in front of Jessie, who was the same height as him but slightly broader.
            “We play King at The Pit.”
            “Pit?” Judd’s eyebrows went up.
            “The balance beams, dummy!” Justin whispered.
            “I’m not going to duel a girl at The Pit,” King Pete laughed, but he was nervous at the possibility of losing power.
            “Oh, you scared?” Jessie pushed Pete with a finger.
            The boys were shocked. They looked for Pete to make his move. “I will not challenge a girl to a duel. It’s pointless.”
            “But she challenged you,” Matt pointed out.
            “So?” Pete huffed.
            “I think she’s boy enough to challenger you.” Tommy also pointed out.
“I like that idea,” Jimmy added.
“Me too!” Johnny went along with Jimmy.
“Duel!,” Simms cheered, some of the others joining in. They were turning against Pete.

                                                And so…to The Pit.

Jessie took her position at one end and Pete at the other.
Balancing themselves, they moved slowly towards each other.
Jessie pushed Pete and he almost lost balance.
He regained himself and then lunged at Jessie who jerked a bit.
Pete lunged at her again.
This time she grabbed him by the skull
And pushed him backward off The Pit.
Pete fell onto his back.
It knocked the wind out of him causing him to cry.

            The boys laughed. Pete cried off to tell Mrs. Marion. Jessie didn’t care for she had succeeded and she pumped her fist like she had just won a gladiator battle, “I’m king! I’m King of the Jungle Boys!”
The boys all looked at each other: Andy, Jimmy, Johnny, Jamil, Phil, Justin, Matt, Tommy, Simms, and Judd…
            “King Jessie!” Simms cheered and ALL the others joined impressed by Jessie’s strength.
            “Now, let us go to The Wasteland and make peace with girls (formerly known as the ones The Jungle Boys didn’t speak of),” Jessie led a line. “We will expand our land beyond The Jungle and The Courts under my rule.”


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